Waipara Hills Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009

How quickly some things change. Only a very few years ago, to buy decent Central Otago Pinot Noir would almost inevitably put a serious dent into one’s wallet. Last time I visited the region, a couple of years ago now, I was heartened to see a lot more reasonably priced wines, still genuine expressions of the style. This wine isn’t exactly bargain basement, but at under $30 retail it sits comfortably in the mid-price bracket.

And, quality-wise, it fits solidly in this bracket too. There’s nothing remarkable about this wine at all and, though that may sound like a put-down, it’s simply a reflection of what it is: an accessible expression of Central Otago Pinot. To the last point first, the wine is true to type. The nose has a characteristic density of fruit that I associate with the region, along with a slightly dirty texture that roughens the aroma profile and lends it an edge. Thyme, dark biscuitty oak, hints of spice. It’s all there in a glossy, slick package.

The palate is similarly slick, structure in particular well-judged. In the earlier days, the region’s Pinots were often criticised for a coarseness of structure and an excess of extract; while this does taste fairly extracted, I’m not seeing an unbalanced structure, acid and tannin being present but not terribly intrusive. This, combined with a full-flavoured fruit profile, creates a lazy plushness that is alternately seductive and bland. This is so easygoing that, at times, I wish for more angularity, more edge. The reality is, though, that one probably needs to step up a rung to get the kind of character this wine suggests but never quite delivers on. As it is, a genuine taste of the region for, in historical terms, not very much money.

Waipara Hills
Price: $A29.90
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

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